SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
After months of partisan name-calling, it's heartwarming to see politicians of both parties coming together against a common enemy: teachers.
The strike by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has led the Republican presidential ticket to publicly support that city's Democratic mayor and President Obama's former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.
"Teachers unions have too often made plain that their interests conflict with those of our children," Mitt Romney announced, "and today we are seeing one of the clearest examples yet."
Yes, if anyone's interests are in perfect synch with America's children, it's Mitt Romney. After all, the reason he has fired so many people over the years is so they could spend more time helping their kids with homework.
Of course, most of us know what's wrong with the world. We know about the poverty, war, violence and disease. We're conscious of the injustice, but not fully conscious of it, because frankly, we have enough to worry about in our own lives. As such, we've come to accept these injustices as simple facts of life – prepackaged side effects of the human condition, as natural and intertwined with our existence as water to a stream, beyond our capacity to effect in any significant way. This collective sense of powerlessness and default apathy is why we're occupying.
Our growing sense of isolation and disconnection, whether from ourselves, from those next door to us, or from those producing our food and products halfway across the globe, is why we're occupying. Our forced support of perpetual war waged for and by the 1% - whether explicitly with speech, or implicitly with inaction and tax dollars - without ever paying mind to the true causes and motives behind it, is why we're occupying. Our failure up till now to connect the dots and realize that the benefits of a cheap iPod, lovely as it may be, would be far outweighed by the benefits of a truly just world free of exploitation, is why we're occupying.
Why on Rosh Hashanah? Isn't this mixing politics and religion? Well, in Judaism there is no such separation—the entire Torah is the story of a liberation struggle against oppression that Jews read a part of each Shabbat. In fact, a fundamental message of Judaism was that the God of the universe cared about social justice, peace, and love, and hence sought for people to engage in lives that fostered a society that embodied those values.
But there is more. The Torah specifically enjoins us to not offer loans for interest, but rather to loan without expectation of reward. And it also enjoins us to redistribute the wealth of the society (in the ancient world, that would be land ownership) every fifty years. Suspecting that people might find it challenging to do this, that they might come up with rationales for not doing so, God is heard to be saying that people need to remember that "The whole earth is Mine." That is, there is no "right" to private property or to the produce that we humans help bring forth from the earth. We are, the Torah tells us, merely sojourners on God's earth, and our obligation is to protect the earth and care for it, not to act as though we have a right to it. So, the Torah enjoins us to share the food with the homeless, the stranger (the "Other" or in today's reality, the immigrant), the widow and orphan (i.e. the powerless).
More than 5,000 supporters of Chicago's teachers rallied and picketed outside the Hyatt Regency this afternoon before marching down Michigan Ave. in a spectacular show of solidarity with the Chicago Teachers Union on the fourth day of the strike.
The protesters had a strong message for Penny Pritzker, the billionaire member of the Chicago Board of Education whose family owns the Hyatt: taxpayer funds are going to your hotel chain while our schools are crumbling, and that is unacceptable.
Marchers included members of the Grassroots Collaborative, Action Now, the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, community leaders from organizations all across Chicago, and teachers representing schools from around the city.
Profiting from Public Dollars: How ALEC and Its Members Promote Privatization of Government Services and AssetsBy In The Public Interest Team, In the Public Interest | Press Release
For years, corporations have joined the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for the opportunity to develop legislation that diverts public dollars into their corporate coffers. A new report by In the Public Interest, "Profiting from Public Dollars: How ALEC and Its Members Promote Privatization of Government Services and Assets," exposes ALEC's extensive privatization agenda. The report details how private prison corporations, online education companies, health care corporations, and major industry players pay large membership fees to ALEC in exchange for valuable and unfettered access to state legislators. Corporations are able to work with ALEC lawmakers to craft bills that allow private control of public functions, and guarantee a steady stream of tax dollars to enhance profits.
Corporate and legislative ALEC members work together to jointly develop pro-privatization model bills, and then legislators introduce and push these bills in their state legislatures. These bills make it easier to create virtual public schools, encourage states to privatize vital health programs that help vulnerable populations, force state governments to sell public prisons to prison corporations, and help other industries take control of public assets and services.
If you want to change the direction and future of this country then we need a different point of view. The two candidates are not going to be talking about the real issues: exploding debt, unfair taxation, two standards of justice, and corporate control of what used to be our democracy. If you want to see these and other issues fixed : Occupy the debates.
The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is so cash-strapped that it plans to close and consolidate under-utilized schools, with rumors that it could be upwards of 120 schools this coming year. Many people would consider this to be fiscally prudent. Mayor Emanuel is of course going to blame the soon-to-be agreed upon new union contract.
What the public does not understand, however, even though both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times have been writing about it for months, is that CPS is also simultaneously planning to open 60 new charter schools in the next few years. That decision was made last year under the "Gates Compact" in which CPS went into an agreement with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to increase charter schools in Chicago.
In a landmark case, on September 6, 2012, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Circuit Court Judge gave standing to an Australian woman to collect a Japanese civil judgment against a former US Navy sailor for raping her in Japan ten years ago.
A civil judgment by a Tokyo court in 2004 ordered sailor Bloke T. Deans to pay ¥3 million yen (approximately $38,000) in damages to Catherine Jane Fisher as compensation for emotional and physical harm from the rape. However, despite knowing of the Japanese court case against Deans, the US Navy issued Deans an honorable discharge and allowed Deans to leave Japan without informing the Japanese court or Ms. Fisher.
For ten years, Ms. Fisher searched for Mr. Deans and in 2011 she finally located him in Milwaukee. In May, 2012, Ms. Fisher filed a suit against Mr. Deans in Milwaukee Circuit Court.
[M]an's 21st century response to dramatic events is not necessarily just to simply interact with it, but to also record it. If communication technology was created to enhance our daily lives, something has dramatically shifted along the way: More and more, we are altering our behaviors in service of the digital world.
So many of us now have been raised on video games, cell phones and iPods. We've spent a large bulk of our lives in chat rooms, on Skype and posting videos to YouTube, to the extent that we've become news reporters and newsmakers, without even making much of an effort. We announce our actions and, in some cases, our impending demise online without giving it much thought. We have been so conditioned to invest our emotional life in the virtual space that it has become second nature. What's more, many of us have learned to split our attention, with one eye on the electronic mirror and the other on reality.